ELKINS - Many community leaders and volunteers are already hard at work raising funds to help the family that fell victim to Monday's fire.
On Wednesday, Elkins Mayor Van Broughton established a benefit account for the Chamberlains at Citizens Bank of West Virginia.
"A benefit fund has been set up to accept donations to help the Chamberlain family, who tragically lost four children and their father in a house fire," Broughton said.
"Being a caring community, so many citizens have asked how they can help. Contributing to this relief account is just a small way we can help Mrs. Chamberlain start to rebuild her life after her recovery and this horific ordeal."
Contributions to the Chamberlain account may be made at any Citizens Bank of West Virginia office, located in Elkins, Beverly, Parsons or Snowshoe. Donations can be mailed to Chamberlain Family Memorial Fund, c/o Citizens Bank of West Virginia, P.O. Box 1519, Elkins, WV 26241. Include account number 1045 in the memo part of your check.
Broughton expressed his thanks for those who have already contributed to the fund.
"There is already a nice little amount of money in that fund," Broughton said.
Broughton said he is also working to organize a candlelight vigil to remember the fire victims.
"The event is still in the planning stages, and will be held next week," Broughton said. "Additional information about that will be forthcoming."
Shane Richardson, a special education instructor at Elkins Middle School, said students and personnel are planning a memorial for sixth-grade student Katie Bolgar, who passed away Tuesday from injuries sustained in the fire.
"On Nov. 4 through 8, we will be dedicating a section of the EMS library to Katie," Richardson said. "We are asking people to purchase books suitable for 11- to 14-year-olds to fill this section. We are also accepting donations which we will use to purchase books for the library."
Richardson said Katie was in the EMS library every school day.
"She said it was her favorite room of the school," Richardson said. "She really loved books."
Richardson said books and donations may be dropped off at the school any weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"Each donated book in Katie's section will include a sticker indicating the book was given in memory of her and who it was donated from," Richardson said.
"Any checks should be made payable to Elkins Middle School, and the memo section should note the donation is for the book memorial."
Tucker County resident Jennifer Cassidy has teamed up with concerned residents and the group is working on many upcoming fundraisers to benefit the family, including a spaghetti dinner Nov. 16.
"The dinner will be at the First Baptist Church in Elkins from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 16," Cassidy said. "Dinners include a salad, drink, spaghetti, meatballs and garlic bread. Carry out will be available. Dinners are $7 for adults and $3 for kids 10 and under. Tickets are available at the door."
Cassidy said the group is organizing another event at the end of November, and in January, they will sponsor an elimination dinner, 5K race and chicken BBQ, where proceeds will benefit the family.
"Anyone interested in helping with the events or with donations can send me a private message on Facebook," Cassidy said.
The first announced benefit for the family was made public Tuesday when Harvey Taylor, a Randolph County Board of Education member, said the event will be "a combination cakewalk, 50/50 drawing and auction" held at George Ward Elementary School at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 9.
Taylor said all proceeds from the event will go toward the family's funeral costs.
The initial idea for the event came from the employees of Northwest Hardwoods in Dailey, where Alan Chamberlain, the family's father who passed away late Tuesday, was employed, Taylor said.
Donations are already coming in for the event and Taylor and Broughton, who is also helping to organize the benefit, welcome help of any kind.
"We'll take any donations," Taylor said. "We'll come pick them up. It's going to be a big, big event."
Taylor said anyone wishing to donate or help in any way can call him at 304-338-2087.
Individuals at the Elkins Middle School football game Wednesday night spontaneously began taking collections for the family. People in the stands walked up into the press box to make donations to the cause.
- Contact Beth Christian Broschart by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at IMT_Broschart.